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Old 27th September 2015, 13:52   #1
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Default Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

Checked off one more item from my bucket list. Did the Manali Leh cycling trip with an adventure touring company. We were eight cyclists. I was accompanied by a friend on this trip with whom have done a motorcycle trip too so we refreshed a lot of memories. Have put down crisp notes and will let the pictures do most of the talking.

Day 0: Delhi to Manali overnight in a Volvo. Pretty uneventful but a long bus ride to Manali. While all the tour operators claim that it’s a 12 hour journey, trust me they all take 15 hours or more so plan accordingly.

Day 1: Rest day in Manali. Was a little painful on realizing that the organizer did not have proper rental bikes. Went to the main market and talked to the Scott & trek distributor. A gem of a guy. Rented us brand new bikes at 50% of their price.

Day 2: Manali to Marhi (37 Kms). Elevation gain of 1250 meters. Marhi is at an altitude of 3200 meters. The first day’s ride was very painful as none of us were accustomed to uphill rides. The stay was mesmerizing to say the least.
Meeting Anastasia on the way who being a mathematics Phd scholar was cycling all around the world in her free time!

Day 3: Marhi to Sissu (52 Kms). Crossing Rohtang La @ 3978 meters. Sissu is at an altitude of 2800 meters. Rohtang la is the passage to Ladakh. Don’t miss the mutton-rice at Khoksar; incidentally a police check post as well. A dog ‘Nikki’ followed us right from Marhi to all the way till Rohtang where I fed her mutton rice. Didn’t see her after Rohtang so believe she turned back after ensuring that we were able to do the uphill. Hope to see her back in Marhi on my next trip.

Day 4: Sissu to Jispa (60 kms). Jispa is at 3300 meters. Riding along the Chdnra river till it meets the Bhaga river at Tandi. The confluence creates the Chandrabhaga river or Chenab as a lot of us know it. The highest café in the valley after Stingri. This was a water crossing where I had a fall of a life time, literally

Day 5: Jispa to Patseo (easy 22 Kms). Patseo is at 4000 meters. The camp has to be experienced for a time of your life.

Day 6: Patseo to Sarchu (65 Kms - a tough ride). Sarchu is the border of Himachal & Jammu & Kashmir states. Experienced a hail storm for the first time in my life at Sarchu. The weather for sure is changing and landslides are going to be a regular feature of this region in July-August so plan accordingly. The climb starts right from the camp and all the way to baralach-la. Baralach-la literally means ‘a pass with crossroads’. It is at an altitude of 4892 mtrs.

Day 7: Sarchu to Whisky Nullah. (15 kms). This day was supposed to be a ride till Pang but due to the collapsed Whisky bridge, we spent the day camping here. The best part was managing traffic here, lending hands to the BRO for putting together the makeshift bridge.

Day 8: Whisky Nallah to Tso Kar (in a car). We passed Nakee-la, Lachung-la & the Gata loops on the way. Part of the ride missed due to incessant rains & landlsides. The bright side was, will have a chance to go back and complete this part of the ride! FYI - the military base at Pang has a satellite PCO which can be used at INR 6 per minute.

Day 9: Tso Kar to Rumptse (80 kms). Crossing Tanglang-la. Tanglang-la at an altitiude of 5350 meters is the second highest motorable pass in the world as per the BRO. It was snowing when we reached Tanglang-la!!

Day 10: Rumptse to Leh (85 kms). The ride from Rumptse is downhill and mostly event free but it wasn’t to be for us. The bridge at Gya village (8 kms ahead of Rumptse) had collapsed and we faced severe supplies and water shortage for the first time. We finally got to cross the bridge only to realize 20 kms down the road that a part of the road had been washed away by the river due to a landslide blockage of the natural river bed. After waiting and deliberating, we decided to lift our cycles and cross the river holding on to ropes tied by the army. What a feeling it was to get to the other side! Its on this road that you come across Thiksey monastery, the Shey palace and multiple Tibetian & Ladakhi settlements.
The feeling of checking into a proper hotel & taking a running hot shower can sometimes be a revelation!!!!

Day 11: Rest day.

Day 12: Leh to Kahrdung-la (5600 meters) & back (84 kms). The mother of all rides. The ride up will almost kill you. One needs to dig deep for physical and mental strength.
The body starts to ache by the time one reaches South Pullu, only to realize that the road is virtually non-existent from South Pullu till K-top. It snowed on the way up. 4 Kms before the top it became a fight of resolve vs nature. Thankfully the resolve prevailed only to be rewarded with steaming hot Coffee at the highest café in the world.

Day 13: Flight back to Delhi (read urban madness ).

Have been thinking for 2 months to pen down this travelogue but something or the other keeps me away so letting pictures do most of the talking. Do post any queries that you may have.

Overnight stay at the hotel Page 3 in Manali.
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Gift of the Maggi!
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First stop at Gulaba
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Nehru kund
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Ride up Rohtang
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The guest house where we camped on the first night in Marhi
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Anastasia (Right most) riding all the way from Russia
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Layul dhaba serving at Khoksar since 1971
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Road to nowhere
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Bridge over troubled waters
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Hot cuppa on reaching camp Jispa
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Tee-off from camp Jispa
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The roads that we rode
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Heavy heavy fuel
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Confluence of Chandra & Bhaga rivers; Chenab as most of us would know
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Remember those who made it possible
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Like a rolling stone
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Re-start from Jispa
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The troubled Darcha valley
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One of the water crossings
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Deepak Taal
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Put your head down and keep pedalling
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Our camp at Patseo
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Troubled bridges
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A refreshing fall!
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Attached Thumbnails
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Last edited by GTO : 28th September 2015 at 13:21. Reason: Typo :)
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Old 27th September 2015, 16:50   #2
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Default re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

Continuing with more pictures.

Ride up to Baralach-la
Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!-36.jpg

Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!-37.jpg

Suraj Taal
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Baralach-la!!
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Sarchu!!
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Start off from camp Sarchu
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Landslide delayed us by a few hours!
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All is well, BRO!!
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Take me to the next Whisky bridge...
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Our camp at Whisky bridge
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Kanglajal water crossing... it was a scary moment..
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The mess at Pang
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The golden hour at More plains
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Our camp at Tso Kar
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Starting from Tso Kar for Tanglang-la
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Ride up to Tanglang-la top
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Tanglan-la... the second highest pass on our trip
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Remembering the sacrifices; on the way down
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Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!-65.jpg

Last edited by nitin.rai : 27th September 2015 at 20:01.
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Old 27th September 2015, 17:06   #3
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Default re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

Last set of pictures for this travelogue.

Our camp at Rumptse
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Our awesome cook, Anil bhai
Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!-67.jpg

Camp and the backdrop...
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The camp and the five billion star stay!
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Be gentle on my curves!
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A trip of a lifetime with swept away roads and crossing them!
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At Thiksey monastery just before entering Leh!
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Regroup at the hotel in leh. Cant explain how a hot running shower felt after 11 days!!!!
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The Hall of Fame in Leh, a must visit.
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Gurudwara Pathar Sahib near Nimu on the Leh kargil highway (we took a cab till here on the rest day).
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Start for the Kardung-la ride; the mother of all rides I have done till date!
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Fight of resolve with nature... made me witness the old silk route
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Prayer flags kept us going.
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Pump of fists on seeing the Kardung-la board!
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Digging into all the reserves to lift her for one last time on this trip!
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Last edited by nitin.rai : 27th September 2015 at 21:49.
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Old 27th September 2015, 22:01   #4
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Default re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

Brilliant effort; both with the cycles and with the camera. If you guys have not seen this, here is one more on the same lines:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...r-la-mahe.html (Extreme Expedition, Bicycling: Leh-Chang la-Pangong-Chushul-Kakasang la-Hor la-Mahe)

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Old 28th September 2015, 14:45   #5
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Default Re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

Fantastic achievement Nitin. Brilliant photographs as well.

Such a ride requires careful planning and preparation. However, the satisfaction one gets after completing the journey is unmatched.

Hats off to the team.
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Old 28th September 2015, 16:32   #6
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Default Re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

Let me congratulate on your wonderful trip Nitin. Did you happen to book this trip through bookmyshow? I, too, was looking for a similar trip in third week of September but it didn't materialize - owing to work.

Fantastic scenery and a hell of a ride up those mighty mountains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nitin.rai View Post
Day 1: Rest day in Manali. Was a little painful on realizing that the organizer did not have proper rental bikes. Went to the main market and talked to the Scott & trek distributor. A gem of a guy. Rented us brand new bikes at 50% of their price.
Oh, thats sad. Did you have to spend extra for these bikes?
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Old 28th September 2015, 16:40   #7
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Default Re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

Quote:
Originally Posted by nitin.rai View Post
Day 1: Rest day in Manali. Was a little painful on realizing that the organizer did not have proper rental bikes. Went to the main market and talked to the Scott & trek distributor. A gem of a guy. Rented us brand new bikes at 50% of their price.
Does this mean inspite of paying the tour operator, you had to hire your own bikes that too for half the price of new bike just as rent?

How much was the operator cost and rental cost of bike? Could you return them in Leh? How was it handled?
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Old 28th September 2015, 16:40   #8
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Default Re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

A Ladakh travelogue is always refreshing and a must read for me. But this is probably one of the most adventurous and a saga of grit that I have come across. What makes it more alive is the brilliantly timed photographs like the legendary fall and the water crossing holding the rope line and with your bicycles on your shoulders! Mere mortals like me would have called it a quit just at the sight of the broken whisky bridge or the washed away section of the highway. Bravo! Rated it 5*.
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Old 28th September 2015, 17:26   #9
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Default Re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

Amazing trip buddy, brilliant effort, guess the tight rope walk you did to pass with the help of a rope is one of your highlights and if not for a bike you would have been stuck there. Photos are of course brilliant and so very enchanting. Enjoyed it thoroughly, must admire your grit and determination to climb despite so many odds, Kudos.
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Old 28th September 2015, 19:09   #10
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Default Re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

Awesome photos and trip. Can you please share the dates you did the trip on?

Me and friend drove in the early-mid August and that time the Whiskey bridge was intact. We also got stuck very close to Tanlangla top for about 45 minutes due to land slide. Here we were fighting AMS (sipping water and what not) when we saw a couple of cyclist ride past us. That made us think "Who are these people and what are they made of..?" Kudos!

Did you take any special training before the trip? Going by your log it doesn't seem like you had much time to acclimatize.

Last edited by kaushal21fb : 28th September 2015 at 19:11.
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Old 28th September 2015, 19:29   #11
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Default Re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
Hats off to the team.
Thanks Aditya! It was one hell of a ride. We witnessed 2 fallen bridges (which we helped build as well), 3 landslides (major ones) & incessant rains. In my numerous trips to Ladakh, this was the first time I witnessed such inclement weather. There was a 3 hour hailstorm in Sarchu to top this all!!

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Originally Posted by AceKnocks View Post
Did you happen....bikes?
Quote:
Originally Posted by shipnil View Post
Does this mean....How was it handled?
Thanks, Ace & Shipnil!
Not through any regular site. I went through a touring company 'being out there'. You can look them on FB. Inspite of their mess up I still would recommend them because of the sheer experience Dhananjay (the owner) demonstarted during the incidents. Two points to note - am a perfectionist & all tour operators will mess up (some here, some there as they seem to know that you dont have much of a choice but to go with them).
The bike rental was discussed extra (9k) at the time of the booking so didnt have to pay anything for those to my operator & the new bikes were just a tad more expensive (10k). The tour operator carried them back on the support vehicle to Manali.


Quote:
Originally Posted by psurelia View Post
But this is probably.....Bravo! Rated it 5*.
Thanks! trust me am a mortal too but something had gotten into our heads that we need to finish the ride and we kept going. Only 3 made it to the K-top without the support vehicle and I was happy to be one of them (the other two are professionals)! I had prepared for an year with a mix of cycling, weight training & running; it helped immensely.

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Originally Posted by majumon View Post
Amazing trip buddy....
Thanks, much appreciated! Absolutely, if not for the cycles we would have been stuck.
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Old 28th September 2015, 19:33   #12
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Default Re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

Quote:
Originally Posted by kaushal21fb View Post
Awesome photos and trip....acclimatize.
Thanks Kaushal - our trip dates were 13/7 to 26/7. There are regular trips. Yes, the Whisky bridge was re-built (using the old structure). if you have visited whisky bridge earlier, you would have missed the wind swept structures (lost in the slide).
No special training, one year of regular mix of cardio & strength training.
The itinerary helped us acclimatize due to the initial 4 days of easy riding & staying close to an altitude of 10,000 feet.

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Old 29th September 2015, 11:51   #13
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Default Re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

Outstanding stuff. Daring, passionate and ambitious to the core.
Clear and superb photographs too. Congratulations.
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Old 29th September 2015, 21:48   #14
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Default Re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

Congratulations Nitin for such a wonderful achievement. I know how difficult is it to survive in such places, let alone biking.

Since i have just started biking a few months back and started to get into some shape for long endurance biking. Did you guys got yourself involved into some sort of Acclimatisation before venturing into biking in such altitudes?

Also would you please recommend a good bike which will perform flawlessly in that terrain?
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Old 30th September 2015, 10:14   #15
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Default Re: Manali to Khardung La on a Cycle!

"Phenomenal" is the word which kept coming into my mind all through while I was reading it.

I don't even want to try to put this into words as I am sure any thing that I would say would be the least that one can say about this trip.

Heartiest Congratulation Nitin for successfully completing this jaw dropping journey. The pictures were absolutely top notch and every click clearly describes the experience and exhilaration that you guys must have experienced.

I must say that I especially liked the pics with you guys walking with the help of the ropes and with the bicycles. That must have been one hell of an experience alone.

Congrats once again and this definitely did one thing for me and that is fuel my desire to visit this part of our country more than ever.

Cheers!
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